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For All Signs The Christmas Star has been a source of mystery for centuries. It is generally accepted among historians that the Magi were astrologers because there was no other body of information except astrology in the era that linked births to celestial events. Since the precise birthdate of Jesus remains unknown, one must search history for clues to the phenomenon that compelled these men to travel such a distance to Bethlehem. Though some have suggested that a comet or a nova may have been the signal, these explanations are unlikely because their appearances were not predictable. Therefore those events were not included in the astrologers' repertoire of prognostic wisdom. Percy Seymour, physicist-astronomer of Great Britain, offers a strong case which postulates the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction of September 7 in the year 7 B.C., as the birthdate of Jesus in his book, Astrology: The Evidence of Science (1988). During that year there was a rare and politically important triple conjunction of these two planets in the sign of Pisces, the Fish. The middle conjunction of September 7 occurred in the constellation of Virgo. Astrology was very important in Jesus' era, thus it might have been said that He was born of a virgin (Virgo). Biblical realists will not appreciate this interpretation of the story, but it is a sound premise if one considers the common acceptance of astrological knowledge of the times.

The New English Bible, Matthew 2, 1-12:

Jesus was born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of Herod. After his birth astrologers from the east arrived in Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who is born to be king of the Jews? We observed the rising of his star, and we have come to pay him homage."

King Herod was greatly perturbed when he heard this; and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the chief priests and lawyers of the Jewish people, and put before them the question: "Where is it that the Messiah is to be born?" "At Bethlehem in Judaea," they replied; and they referred him to the prophecy which reads:

'Bethlehem in the land of Judah, you are far from the least in the eyes of the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a leader to be the shepherd of my people Israel.'

Herod next called the astrologers to meet him in private, and ascertained from them the time when the star had appeared. He then sent them on to Bethlehem, and said, "Go and make a careful inquiry for the child. When you have found him, report to me, so that I may go myself and pay him homage."

They set out at the king's bidding; and the star which they had seen at its rising went ahead of them until it stopped above the place where the child lay. At the sight of the star they were overjoyed. Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and bowed to the ground in homage to him; then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned home another way.

Across the centuries and cross-culturally, humans have always found ways to celebrate the light of Spirit that never quite goes out inside, no matter how dark it may appear in the world. We rejoice in the ongoing rebirth of hope for new life on the planet and within our psyches. May each of you experience fresh inspiration and expectation of joy in the year to come.

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